In our vibrant democracy, election symbols of various political parties of India play an interesting role. Parties often base their slogans on election symbols while some of them go on to become hits! Mayawati’s BSP has given me my personal favorite, ‘brahmin shankh bajaega, haathi dilli jaega’, a class example of her social engineering skills. Much is said about their political actions but there is so much politics in their symbols itself, with the instance of erecting elephant statues and later their covering by an order of Election Commission not being an isolated incident. Two facts to note about these symbols are that for a political party they can be different in a particular state for example BSP does not have elephant as a symbol in Assam where Asom Gana Parishad uses it and another fact is that ECI keeps updating these symbols depending on the performance of a particular party. Lets have a look on the politics of symbols:
Lotus, BJP: Lotus is a symbol reserved for BJP, a national party of repute and principal opposition in the current Lok Sabha.There are unfortunately no records of since when lotus is BJP’s election symbol but to say the least, there can be no other symbol as apt as lotus for the rightist political parties which draws its cadet from RSS and has tacit backing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Lotus is a symbol of creation in Hindu mythology and Brahma, lord of creation is believed to have originated from the naval of Vishnu on a lotus flower. This flower is often used in the rituals of Hinduism. The only temple of Lord Brahma in Pushkar is where the lotus is believed to have fallen from his hand. Connecting lines between the importance of lotus in Hinduism and it being a symbol of a party with an outward rightist slant, one may argue the political gains due to it but even if this only subtly helps the fortunes of BJP, point is that it helps!
Hand, INC: Well how Indian National Congress got its symbol is a story not oft repeated in the mainstream media. It was a night of February in 1978 when Indira Gandhi was looking for a symbol for her new party Congress (I) that emerged as a result of division in Congress that RK Rajarathnam, a congress worker and a name seldom heard of, suggested her the symbol of hand, which was easy to remember as Indira herself remarked.
Since then hand has been the symbol of INC and one can argue that is the easiest symbol to publicize as others may erect statues, bring flowers,
cite scriptures or promise free ‘cycles’ in case of a victory but nothing is as good as flaunting one’s open palm with a picture perfect smile. Recently Mayawati in response to the covering of statues of elephants in UP, linked Congress’s symbol to the famous open hand monument in Chandigarh in a statement saying that even Punjab is going to polls.
While elephants just recently brought the politics of symbols into limelight but symbols of politics have been making politics as interesting since ever.